FOR Elsie Jones, a wartime job at Aycliffe was the starting point for a new life with her husband Bill.

It meant she could leave her home in Gateshead and marry the man she met on a holiday in his home village of Witton Park.

The couple married in Witton Park Methodist Chapel on August 5, 1944, with neighbours in the mining community pooling their food and drink for the reception.

They celebrated their diamond wedding yesterday at their home in Park Road and are sharing a meal with their family tonight.

In the early years of their marriage they held joint anniversary parties with friends George and Ethel Knighton who were married on the same day.

Mrs Jones, now 79, said: "I was only 18 so I had to ask my mother if I could get married.

"I had a choice of going into the forces or going to Aycliffe. I went there because it meant I could move to Witton Park and marry Bill."

After the war Mrs Jones worked as a mannequin at a West Auckland clothing factory. She later spent 21 years as a nanny at St Chad's RC Primary School, retiring when she was 65.

Mr Jones was a plasterer and stonemason and is a champion vegetable grower, building up a collection of trophies from different gardening clubs.

The couple have three grandchildren and four great grandchildren.